Farage has drink thrown over him at campaign launch

16 minutes agoLewis Adams,BBC News, EssexGetty ImagesNigel Farage had the drink thrown on him as he left a pub following media interviews

Nigel Farage had a drink thrown over him after launching his personal election campaign in Clacton.

The Reform UK leader was leaving a pub after carrying out media interviews when a female – who only gave her name as Victoria to reporters – poured the drink over his suit jacket.

The politician was walking to the Reform UK party bus at the time.

Mr Farage previously said he would not stand in the general election, before Monday’s U-turn announcement, when he announced his candidacy in the Essex seat.

Nigel Farage has drink thrown over him in Clacton

Prior to the drink incident, Mr Farage said “you will no longer be ignored” as he spoke on the seafront in Clacton-on-Sea.

The constituency, which became the first seat in the UK to elect a UKIP MP in 2014, had a Conservative majority of 24,702 at the last general election in 2019 when Giles Watling was re-elected.

Getty ImagesThe female member of the crowd who threw the drink gave her name only as VictoriaPA MediaMr Farage paid a visit to the local Wetherspoons during his trip

Mr Farage, formerly the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Brexit Party, told a crowd of people that he would spend “a considerable amount of my time with you fighting for those who don’t have their voice”.

“I hope that having a national figure representing this constituency will put Clacton on the map,” said Mr Farage, who is also now Reform UK’s party leader.

“No longer will you be ignored; I hope I can get investment that will bring jobs.

“I will stand up and fight for you… send me to Parliament to be a bloody nuisance.”

Addressing the rally, Mr Farage said the Tories should “pay a big price” for betraying the promises of Brexit.

UK ParliamentThe Conservative candidate Giles Watling said he did not want to see the people of Clacton being “taken for granted”

The Tendring district, which includes the parliamentary constituency, voted 69.5% in favour of leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum and Clacton found itself centre stage in national politics in the run-up to that vote.

Clacton’s former pro-Brexit Conservative MP Douglas Carswell defected to UKIP prior to the referendum in 2014, resigned his seat and then won it for his new party in a by-election that year – and retained it in the general election in 2015.

‘Altar of his vanity’

Giles Watling reclaimed the seat for the Conservatives in 2017 with a 15,828 majority, and held it with an increased majority in 2019. He is standing again, having won a reselection contest within the local Conservative Association last year.

Mr Watling told BBC Essex that Mr Farage “doesn’t give two hoots” about the constituency, which also includes the seaside towns of Frinton and Walton, and villages inland including St Osyth, Tendring and Wix.

“This is all about Nigel, as ever,” said the former actor, who appeared in 1980s BBC sitcom Bread.

“I don’t want to see the residents of Clacton-on-Sea taken for granted and sacrificed on the altar of his vanity.”

Mr Watling said he felt it was his job to “transform Clacton’s future” by using government funding he had secured.

Labour candidate Jovan Owusu-Nepaul said Britain was “crying out for change” as the party fought for every seat.

“The only way to bring about change is by voting the Tories out and electing a new Labour government,” he said.

The other candidates announced as standing in Clacton so far are:

Matthew Bensilum, Liberal Democrats
Natasha Osben, Green Party

Analysis

By Ben Schofield, BBC political correspondent, East of England

Even before Mr Farage’s “emergency” press conference on Monday, bookies had slashed the odds of Reform UK winning Clacton.

Without hearing the announcement, punters were apparently predicting that Mr Farage would change his mind about standing in a constituency, as well as the seat he would choose.

But what issues could Clacton’s next MP face?

It had one of the highest pro-Leave votes in the country in the Brexit referendum.

While parts of the constituency are relatively affluent, such as Frinton-on-Sea, it is also home to some of the UK’s most deprived areas and the local economy is heavily reliant on tourism, with almost one million people visiting Clacton Pier in 2022 for example.

Average weekly earnings of those living in the constituency were £593 in 2023, far behind the Eastern average of £706. A higher proportion of 16-64 year olds claim out-of-work benefits than the regional average – 4.9% in April 2024 compared to 3.1% across the East region.

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